Oil Exports Have Quadrupled Over the Past Four Years 

New research from Accountable.US finds that 28% of all crude oil produced in the United States as of November last year was exported — a new high since Congress lifted the ban on oil exports in late 2015. This new data debunks misinformation advanced by the oil and gas industry and the American Petroleum Institute that the Biden administration’s public lands and waters leasing pause would threaten domestic ‘energy independence.’ 

Oil exports have increased four-fold since 2016, the first full year such exports were permitted. China has received more oil from the United States than any other country — as much as 41% in April 2020, and about 20% from May 2020 through October 2020. After Big Oil stockpiled some 7,600 approved drilling permits, holding 10.4 million acres of idle public land leases, and tepid oil demand forecasts, the temporary leasing pause will have negligible impacts. 

“Big Oil keeps justifying its climate-damaging attacks on our environment by claiming these actions are needed to achieve energy independence. It’s hardly surprising that new oil export data flies in the face of these misleading industry talking points,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Since Congress voted to lift the oil export ban four years ago, exports have quadrupled, eating up an increasingly large share of domestic production. If energy independence really is the oil and gas industry’s primary objective, why are we seeing more and more American oil exported to other countries like China?” 

After a years-long Big Oil lobbying campaign primarily led by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil export ban repeal passed two Senate committees narrowly, and was ultimately slipped into a major spending bill that passed in 2015. 

API is the largest oil and gas lobby arm in the world, spending millions of dollars each year lobbying Congress. In 2018, the most recent year for which records are available, API had $234,349,360 in total revenue

Read the full Accountable.US research on API’s efforts to lift the oil export ban here and see charts below showing year-by-year U.S. crude oil production, quadrupling of U.S. crude oil exports, and the percentage of those exports that have gone to China. 

U.S. Oil Production v. Export 


Total Oil Exports v. Exports to China 


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